U Blues wins petition try; city reopens op bidding

The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 Wednesday to rescind its controversial five-year extension of the Greek Theatre management contract and put it out to open bidding.

Move comes two days after opponents of the extension to Nederlander Corp. qualified a measure for the November ballot that would require the council to seek the most competitive bidder for the venue’s management. Such an election would cost the city an estimated $1.8 million, according to Councilman Joel Wachs.

Councilman Nate Holden was the lone “no” vote, and Councilman Hal Bernson recused himself because of previous business dealings with Nederlander associates. As part of rescinding the extension, the council requested the city’s recreation and parks commission to open the bidding for the contract, which would start next year. The matter will come before the commission at one of its two meetings next month, a spokeswoman said.

The council voted 9-5 in December to award the extension without competitive bidding to Nederlander, which has operated the venue for over 25 years, after Nederlander representatives contended their organization would be better positioned to make $5 million in improvements to the venue.

Opponents such as Wachs argued that rivals such as Universal House of Blues, which sponsored the referendum drive, would offer the city a better deal than Nederlander’s pledge of the improvements and $500,000 a year in rent.

“May the best bidder win,” said Wachs spokesman Greg Nelson. “This is a great day for the people of the city.”

Attorneys for Nederlander, as expected, sought a stay Wednesday to block the council’s action on grounds that the petitions were illegally circulated. But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Yaffe, following a 75-minute hearing, denied the request and set March 6 for a final hearing on the matter.

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